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Why Is a Laptop's Battery Dearer Than a Lawnmower's?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the laptop-certainly-is-cuddlier dept.

Power 427

Barence writes "PC Pro's contributing editor Paul Ockendon has bought a new lawnmower powered by lithium-ion batteries — part of a recent flood of such lithium-ion-powered garden and workshop tools which are taking over from NiCd and NiMH thanks to lighter weight, longer life and lack of the pernicious 'memory effect.' This is pretty much the same battery technology used in laptops, mobile phones and MP3 players, so volume manufacture is already established. Yet laptop manufacturers charge more per Watt-hour than lawnmower makers. This blog investigates whether such a seemingly ludicrous situation can be justified."

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Well that's easy... (5, Insightful)

Firemouth (1360899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444402)


Re:Well that's easy... (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444630)

I think you mean capitalism (mostly the same thing, but sure). You know, the whole, priced to what the market will bear nonesense that is the fundemental underpinnings of our economy. In this case, the cost of batteries for garden tools is lower because NiCa and other technologies are still viable alternatives, whereas in the laptop segment they are not. In other words, there are more competitors and a higher supply in one market segment than another.

Conratulations. (4, Insightful)

Inominate (412637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444766)

You just spent an entire paragraph explaining the short, simple post you replied to.

The question posed in the story is simple. Why do computer manufacturers screw customers on battery prices? Because they do, because they always have, and most importantly, because they can.

Re:Well that's easy... (4, Interesting)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444634)

Or market economics...turns out a lawnmower purchaser is not willing to pay the same for a battery that a laptop purchaser is or perhaps the lawnmower has cheaper non-lithium competitors it must compete with which drives down it's market price. I guess technically that's greed, charging what you can but without it where would we be?

Re:Well that's easy... (2, Insightful)

Firemouth (1360899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444716)

I guess technically that's greed, charging what you can but without it where would we be?


Re:Well that's easy... (1, Insightful)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444864)

Unlikely, people don't do things for the heck of it.

Re:Well that's easy... (4, Interesting)

Roberticus (1237374) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445036)

Unlikely, people don't do things for the heck of it.

Says the user posting for the heck of it, on the site created for the heck of it back in the day...

Re:Well that's easy... (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444974)

True, look at North Korea or Soviet Russia.

"Intellectuals" deciding what batteries "should" cost would be much better.

Re:Well that's easy... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444758)

For the same reason that you people will pay more for the same headphones if the package says "digital ready" or some similar bullshit statement on them..

Because people are stupid enough to pay more for stuff if they are told it's higher tech.

Re:Well that's easy... (1)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444838)

Yes, thank you. I would mod you up but I have already replied to this thread. There is a difference in willingness to pay between a lawnmower purchaser and a laptop purchaser.

Re:Well that's easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444670)

Capitalism. (Supply and demand.) Look it up.

Re:Well that's easy... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444684)

To be more precise

Batteries =~ Printer Ink

Do you think HP makes its profit on the laptop hardware or the new battery you need to buy 18 months later?

Not Greed .. (5, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444868)

More like "Lack of standards"

There is no "Laptop battery pack", each laptop seams to have is own wattage/voltage combo that is unique to that model / brand.

The fact is, there should be a "standard" set of standard "sizes" available, like we have for regular batteries (A, AA, AAA, C, D, 9v, etc).

It isn't "greed" so much as it is the cost of making a large number of short run batteries. When it costs almost as much to get a battery as it does a new laptop, there is something wrong.

Re:Not Greed .. (5, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445088)

You're describing the effect. "Greed" describes the cause.

It's against the profit interests of laptop manufacturers to standardize batteries because then they'd have to compete with each other on them. Since these batteries are essentially commodity items, the only competitive variable would be pricing. And no producer likes competing on price.

Re:Well that's easy... (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445004)


Laptop batteries are made to higher standards..

we cant have laptop batteries bursting in flames or exploding. so we pay more for them to be made better!

Size matters (5, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444414)

The reason why laptop batteries are more expensive per unit energy than a lawnmower battery is because you're only willing to tolerate a certain physical size for a laptop battery. On a lawnmower, by comparison, an arbitrarily large battery is generally acceptable provided it is not too extraordinarily heavy.

Re:Size matters (4, Informative)

robkill (259732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444482)

This was mentioned in the article, but not as size, but weight. The power to weight ratio is more important. Density of the individual battery cells, and continuous use vs. burst usage also come into play.

Re:Size matters (1)

sg3000 (87992) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445106)

I imagine there's also some lifespan and related warranty issues.

Laptops see a lot of use and the batteries are probably going through nearly continuous discharge/charge cycles. In contrast a lawnmower would be used maybe weekly or power tools that would be used intermittently. There's probably some relationship to the number of times the battery goes through a charging cycle and the additional cost. Note that even if both items have a 1 year warranty, the fact the laptop's battery goes through more frequent charge/discharge cycles and more frequent use, the risk of a failure requiring a replacement is higher likely resulting in some additional warranty costs that need to be considered.

I think the original author should have thought through his rant a bit more before he posted it.

Re:Size matters (5, Funny)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444576)

And let's not forget that one of them sits near your balls, which means I am willing to pay a little extra to make sure it doesn't leak or explode. I imagine insurance, increased product testing and more regulations all add to the price difference as well.

Re:Size matters (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444890)

If the batteries are next to your balls, I don't think you are using the lawnmower in an approved manner.

Re:Size matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444978)

And let's not forget that one of them sits near your balls, which means I am willing to pay a little extra to make sure it doesn't leak or explode. I imagine insurance, increased product testing and more regulations all add to the price difference as well.

Well given the recent trend of exploding equipment, I'd say that is not something you're actually paying for (even if you think you are paying for it).

Re:Size matters (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445016)

And let's not forget that one of them sits near your balls, which means I am willing to pay a little extra to make sure it doesn't leak or explode. I imagine insurance, increased product testing and more regulations all add to the price difference as well.

My lead-acid battery powered mower caught fire. Apparently there was a recall that I didn't know about since it was a hand-me-down. Battery terminals can be shorted together through the blade brake if the PCBs flex too much. And the blade brake is just a long piece of somewhat resistive wire intended to be connected to the motor terminals through a DPDT switch when the battery connection was removed, thus stopping the motor faster than if it had to just spin down. The exciting thing is that this could have happened while the mower was stored in the garage. Much more likely to happen during use, since moving it around is more likely to deform the PCB than just sitting there.

This probably would have been much worse if a lithium battery were shorted out. As it was, I pulled off the cover and broke the circuit, destroying only the blade brake's insulation.

Re:Size matters (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445018)

so you dont buy Dell or sony then.... they comes with exploding as a feature!

Re:Size matters (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444668)

I agree. As someone that bought a netbook simply because I wanted something I could carry on and use on an airplane, size (and weight, as mentioned in the article) matters a lot.

Re:Size matters (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444692)

Demand matters more. If people are willing to pay more then the company can charge more. It's called free market.

Re:Size matters (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444748)

Physics has spoiled me for day-to-day life. I parsed "arbitrarily large battery" as "ludicrously large, but not finite".

Re:Size matters (2, Insightful)

uradu (10768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444778)

I would be surprised if that were the case. The chemistry of all these Li-Ion cells is mostly the same, and regardless of the final outside shape of the battery, internally most use standardized cells connected either in parallel or series to achieve the desired current and/or voltage. I bet you that if you took apart that lawnmower battery, inside you'd find the same basic cells as in that laptop battery, just more of them.

So I would say the lawnmower batteries are mostly cheaper because of some subsidy. Look at other technologies using Li-Ion batteries that are more established, such as power tools: the battery for my Ridgid power drill is $99, which is very much in line with laptop batteries.

Re:Size matters (1)

Mad-Bassist (944409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445118)

Curiously, Tesla uses laptop cells for their battery pack—the logic being to let others worry about battery technology while they worry about their cars.

If those nanowire cells with the theoretical 10x power potential don't come to be, they'll start using Bosch batteries... which actually sounds very natural.

Coming soon (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444424)

Lawnmower-to-laptop battery adapter. Wheel Cart not included.

Re:Coming soon (2, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444698)

Lawnmower-to-laptop battery adapter. Wheel Cart not included.

That was also mentioned in TFA .. along with some ludicrous idea about being able to swap batteries on a laptop when their charge had been depleted. Obviously the author is not an Apple fan-boi

Hmm .. After that statement I think that I will proclaim "OzPeter's law" as a corollary to Godwin's law:

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Apple approaches 1"

Such a what? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444432)

This blog investigates whether such a seemingly ludicrous situation can be justified.

I think somebody watched Spaceballs yesterday!

Re:Such a what? (4, Insightful)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444528)

Or someone has a vocabulary big enough to use the word "ludicrous" without having learned it from a Mel Brooks movie.

Re:Such a what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444646)

Or someone has a vocabulary big enough to use the word "ludicrous" without having learned it from a Mel Brooks movie.


Re:Such a what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30445144)

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Such a what? (1)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445020)

Colonel Sandurz: Prepare the lawnmower for light speed.
Dark Helmet: No, no, no, light speed is too slow.
Colonel Sandurz: Light speed, too slow?
Dark Helmet: Yes, we're gonna have to go right to ludicrous speed.

Re:Such a what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444550)

The article is password protected, but the password is 12345.

supply and demand (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444436)

Re:supply and demand (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444532)

Yeah, my best guess is that the lawnmower batteries are being sold at a discount in order to establish the market. As soon as the market is established, the prices for lawnmower batteries will probably slowly increase until they're about on par with laptop batteries.

Re:supply and demand (3, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444734)

I don't think this is likely, because there isn't a lock-in effect with lawnmowers. Having bought a Brand X lawnmower, when you replace it (quite a few years later, hopefully) you will have no need to replace it with another Brand X. The point of initial low prices on things like consoles is to achieve market dominance: games manufacturers make games for the most popular consoles so players buy the consoles which makes them the most popular. The de-factso standard for lawns - flat grass - is in the public domain.

The Market (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444454)

Because any manufacturer is going to charge the most that you are willing to pay. In lawnmowers, there are cheaper alternatives. With laptops, there are not. Pure market based pricing.

Re:The Market (5, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444562)

Because any manufacturer is going to charge the most that you are willing to pay. In lawnmowers, there are cheaper alternatives. With laptops, there are not. Pure market based pricing.

While I'm certain that's part of the issue, I think you're missing a more obvious difference - the form-factor.

A laptop is supposed to be relatively small and portable. Laptop manufacturers will advertise how thick their laptop is, how many pounds it weighs, and how many hours it'll run on a battery. Thus, laptop batteries - while they may be made with the same technology - are as small and dense as possible.

A lawnmower, on the other hand, has wheels on it. While you'd have a hard time shoving a 1 ton brick around your yard, it probably doesn't make much difference if the thing ways 15 lbs or 25 lbs... It'll still move easily enough. And if you're going to make it self-propelled it'll matter even less. The same thing goes for the size/volume of the thing... It isn't like this thing has to fit into an overhead bin or a backpack. Hell, your cutting deck is already several feet square - the battery probably isn't going to be the biggest thing on it.

So you've got laptops (and cell phones) where you're trying to build a tiny, dense battery... And lawn mowers where you just need enough juice to run the mower for a couple hours and it really doesn't matter how bulky the thing is.

And folks are surprised that there's a price difference why?

Re:The Market (2, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444636)

Yup, I wouldn't be surprised if the lawnmower variants have some chemistry/construction changes such that:
1) The cells are slightly larger/heavier per Wh despite similar chemistry
2) The cells are optimized for a somewhat different charge/discharge regime than a laptop

The above could easily make significant changes to the cost of the batteries.

Re:The Market (1)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444962)

While I'm certain that's part of the issue, I think you're missing a more obvious difference - the form-factor.

Shape is important also. When you are replacing a laptop battery, the new battery has to fit into the space left by the old one. Typically, this means that it has to be made for your exact model of laptop (or at least your model line, if you're lucky). And don't even get me started about laptop AC adapters.

Power tool batteries are designed to be interchangeable at least between the same brand of tools, and compact size is sacrificed for it. Sure, the drill could be a little smaller if it had a drill-shaped custom battery, but then the same battery wouldn't work in the circular saw.

Re:The Market (2, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444602)

I just wish some of this technology transfer would work the other way too. I would love to have a laptop powered by a small integrated gasoline/diesel (diesel would probably work better) engine, and would be willing to pay more per hp than for a lawnmower engine. However, I don't want it to also cut grass- the thought of powered spinning blades under my laptop is not appealing.

Re:The Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444632)

Hush you! No economics here!

Why is it that people who are arguably pretty intelligent fail so miserably at anything involving economics? I suspect that most here just avoid ever taking econ courses, but all of this shit is very simple. I know I avoided the stuff like the plague, but economics and accounting are actually fairly interesting and tend to be very math/logic heavy subjects and I am glad that I went through the classes. I am pretty surprised that so many geeks just lump all business major types into the PHB class and shun them after they themselves spent most of their lives lumped into that geek group and got shunned. Idiot managers are no different than the IT guy that thinks he knows what he is doing and just talks out of his ass.

Prime example (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444762)

Recently I needed a netbook screen replacement.

  1. Official price from maker, more then the actual price of the netbook.
  2. Price from european screen supplier. 120 euro
  3. Price from american ebay, 30 euro

I paid a small business that buys stuff in the US for customers and had the screen PLUS a 9 cell battery for 120 euro.

Morale, laptop makers bleed you dry anyway they can. The batteries are something you can't easily buy from others and the laptop makers try to make you believe that any aftermarket battery will eat your family. How else do you think Sony makes its profits (or rather these days, keeps it losses in control).

Charge what the market is willing to bear, then if not enough buy, charge more so you get more money from the rest. It works... the guy writing the article bought a VAIO. There is one born every minute.

Re:Prime example (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444902)

Part of the increased cost is the fact that the EU puts the financial burden of disposing of the battery safely on the seller of the product, whereas in the US no such regulations exist. Futhermore there are taxes to contend with(VAT in the EU is a national tax whereas sales tax in the US varies from state to state and is generally not charged on internet orders), labor is cheaper in the US than it is in Europe etc. The EU wants all these nice protections, but don't pretend there aren't any costs involved. They charge more in the EU because the EU puts a shit-ton of regulations on the companies greatly increasing their costs.

Are they comparable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444464)

Watts the energy density?

Current (1)

captaindynamo (1097461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444476)

The lawnmower is drawing a much more amperage than the laptop. You would need a more rugged battery to get the same watt-hours.

They charge what they can get away with... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444478)

That's the free market. If people are willing to pay $50 for cell phone batteries then that is what you charge, otherwise you're leaving money on the table.

Look on amazon, you can get cell phone batteries from reputable companies for far, far less.

And cell phone accessories is an even bigger scam. I wanted another usb cable for my blackberry. From my cell phone company they would charger $30. BestBuy was similar.

I bought one on amazon for $0.39. Yes, 39 cents for a genuine usb cable (+2.50 shipping). Chargers are $0.99.

Look, even the genuine stuff comes out of the cheap factories in China, and you're being gouged if you don't shop around.

Re:Price Fixing? (3, Informative)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444796)

Price Fixing is not at issue here. Price fixing is only when multiple manufacturers decide to raise a price simultaneously, which is illegal because it is bad for competition and the end consumer. Price fixing only works with commodities that are highly fungible http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fungible [wikipedia.org] i.e. gasoline or LCD tvs. With laptop batteries, price fixing isn't necessary because you can't buy a Toshiba battery if you need one for a Dell. Laptop batteries aren't fungible.

Electric Lawnmower (4, Funny)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444498)

I really like the idea of a battery powered lawnmower, as opposed to the electric lawnmower I had as a kid back in the 70s. My parents were foolish enough to think I could use it without running over the cord... boy did I prove them wrong.

Re:Electric Lawnmower (1)

Hey_bob (6104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444726)

I had similar ideas, and was mighty pleased at the prospect of not having to mow the lawn anymore. Silly me for not realizing that dad would just repair the cord and send me back on my way.

I had my revenge later.. seemed the motor didn't fair so well on particularly tall and thick grass. :-)

Manual Lawnmower! (5, Funny)

afc_wimbledon (1052878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444754)

Avoids the flex problem, is always charged up, is a lot cheaper to buy and free to run, and as a bonus I get exercise when I cut the lawn! (OK, OK, my *girlfriend* gets exercise when *she* cuts the lawn because I can't be bothered, but the principle's the same!)

Re:Manual Lawnmower! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30445140)

Avoids the flex problem, is always charged up, is a lot cheaper to buy and free to run, and as a bonus I get exercise when I cut the lawn! (OK, OK, my *girlfriend* gets exercise when *she* cuts the lawn because I can't be bothered, but the principle's the same!)

What's she wear when cutting the lawn? No doubt I can understand why it's not you cutting then.

mod -1 sexist
mod +1 understanding
mod -1 chauvanist pig

Heat? (3, Insightful)

rekoil (168689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444508)

It very well might be that heat dissipation requirements deem that laptop batteries be more efficient (read: latest-generation designs, which invariably will cost more per kWh), where lawnmower batteries can get away with models that throw off more waste heat.

Explosions. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444514)

When you pack a battery into 1/3 the space you would ideally want it in it has a tendency to explode. The price discrepancy is trying to minimize the likelihood of it literally burning you. A mower has a lot more space for heat dissipation. It's also less likely to cause third-degree burns on the off chance it does overheat, since you don't use it on your lap.

More importantly, who wins in a fight? (1)

isThisNameAvailable (1496341) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444520)

Will the laptop battery last long enough to hack into and disable the lawnmower's systems before the lawnmower can run it over and make lithium confetti?

A more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444522)

Does your lawnmower support 802.11n?

radio controlled hobby batteries (3, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444544)

Some of it is chemistry, and some of it is brand name inflation. Lithium batteries have a range of formulations. The lowest-cost formulations are suitable for low-amperage discharge, while better formulations can be discharged at a much higher current and still maintain a cool temperature and good recharge longevity. Heat is the real enemy here, so cramped cooling-starved long-running applications like laptops also demand better batteries than a weed-whacker that runs occasionally and has a chance of good airflow. In the radio-controlled hobby, there is a huge range of prices for essentially commodity batteries. These are usually Lithium-Polymer, a step above the usual laptop Li-Ion, but the same economics are in play. There are some "well known names" that are sold in all of the domestic R/C retailers. There are some generics sold in Hong Kong that sell for 1/3 to 1/5 the price, and some are even higher quality in longevity testing. Lithium is lithium, so unless there's an amazing return/warranty policy, it's usually not worth the brand name price.

Re:radio controlled hobby batteries (2, Interesting)

0x537461746943 (781157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444898)

I disagree. The cheap batteries that you can get from over seas generally don't hold up very well long term(accepting the fact that almost all LiPo batteries are actually made in China). Just go to rcgroups.com and do some searches there for battery discharge graphs. The top of the line LiPo cells so far are ThunderPower G3 40C which have a very impressive discharge graph. They hold the same voltage as they age during load for 80% of the discharge. After 200+ flights the only thing that changes is the falloff curve at the very end which gets brought in close(less mah over 200+ cycles). I personally use Hyperion G3 35C batteries because ThunderPower doesn't make the 6s 6500mah batteries I want(only up to 5000mah). Hyperion is still very good discharge graphs but the whole discharge curve does slightly go down with age. Hyperion do a very good job of holding voltage during extreme loads like the ThunderPower. If you compare Zippy or any of the other very cheap batteries(1/3 the cost of Hyperion or ThunderPower) you will see there is a big difference between them especially after 50 cycles on them.

Ben says (4, Insightful)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444612)

"The cost of goods is what the market will bear.." It cost that much because people will pay that much. Expectations are such that consumers are willing to pay more for non-essential "gadgets" in relation to "tools". A person will buy a $2000 dollar laptop but wouldn't dream of buying a $2000 push mower (outside of premium or elite marketing).

Perception of a product influences price. A battery for a laptop is "techie, electronic, computer related" while a battery for you kid's eleectric car is a "consumable, toy, non-essential" and a battery for a lawnmower is "utlility, get-it-done, tool" in perception.

Those perception influence product pricing. There is no conventional "miniturization" in Lithium batteries per say that you have to pay a higher costs to shrink the battery, it seems more driven by natural market dynamics.

Some AA-ish Li cells in a plastic pack... (3, Interesting)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444642)

Basically the only thing on newer laptops is that there is actual circuitry inside of the battery pack now, but it is all very basic and couldn't cost more than a dollar or two at best. I used to work at Radioshack in college (I know, I know, but I was actually intelligent and truly helpful... not a drone) and I once replaced the cells in my Thinkpad 600 right there on the counter with the Li cells we sold... Everyone was amazed that, that was all that was inside of there. People always seem to think because it has to do with a computer it must be magical and exotic. Basically as long as you know how to properly solder them without killing yourself (the ones with tabs help) it's a 5-10 minute job and cost about $10-15.

It's the energy density, people (0)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444658)

TFA even goes on to admit that the lawnmower battery weighs three times as much as the VAIO's. If you want cheap Li-Ion cells that will run your notebook for under half an hour before giving out, that's fine. Enjoy them.

Regulatory Requirements? (1)

wh1pp3t (1286918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444672)

I am only guessing here as to why -- no sources and no research.

I am assuming there is more regulation and licencing required on electronic devices than power tools. Hence stricter requirements, increased labor to bring to market and liability concerns.
OR perhaps the cost of the cell used in laptops is higher from the battery manufacturer (he didn't mention individual cell size).

Of course, the other option is companies trying to make a few extra dollars/pounds/yen/etc. However, the author of TFA seemed to be on more of a rant than a research mission.

It's about quality, man (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444680)

You're not going to pay top dorrah for a generic Made In China battery for a lawnmower or power tool, but you'll gladly pay a premium for higher quality electrons from a Japanese labeled battery in your iThinkBook. It's still Made In China, of course, but as long as you don't look too closely at it, you won't feel ripped off.

They made cheap lithium-ion batteries for laptops (2, Insightful)

Kagato (116051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444690)

You can get cheap lithium-ion batteries for laptops. Third party knock off brands usually sent straight China. They don't work as well and in some cases can even cause damage. If laptop batteries were easy to make the third party market wouldn't be full of bad batteries.

Printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444694)

While you are at it, why not trying to understand why the printer's inks are so expensive?

Tolerances (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444700)

Let's not forget that laptop batteries probably have higher quality requirements for smooth power delivery, low heat emission during use, etc when compared to lawn mower batteries.

Re:Tolerances (1)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444982)

... Not to mention the fact that I can't remember the last time I used a battery powered lawnmower on my lap - a place of great concern to me... leaving aside the fact that the whirring blades might not bode well for my lap, I can also say that I would not like a battery to spontaneously combust while using a laptop lawnmower.

Chargers.... (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444706)

Does this mean that I can charge my lawnmower with my laptop charger? Or, better yet, will my laptop charge in a fraction of the time if I use my lawnmower charger on it?

I realize that the above is ludicrous, but does Joe Sixpack? How many exploding laptops will we see from some eco-green lawnmower lover trying to implement the above?

Actually... (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444888)

It's because you can pull-start a lawnmower, so you don't really need a battery. As soon as we have Briggs & Stratton powered laptops, the batteries will be dirt cheap.

Safety Regulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444906)

Laptop batteries are required to meet very strict safety guidelines. I'll bet that lawn mower batteries have very few safety guidelines... which makes sense... a laptop battery exploding is much more likely to hurt someone than a lawn mower battery. All that testing and all those extra safety measures add up to increased cost.

Why original laptop batteries (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444920)

You can buy Sony batteries for GBP220 or you can buy chinese batteries for like GBP40. On my IBM laptop my chinese batteries are working fine for 3 years now, and they still have nearly full capacity.

Reason (1)

KiwiCanuck (1075767) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444924)

Because they need to prove that an electric mower is at least as good as a gas version (adoption). Also, laptop batteries would be cheaper if you could buy a gas powered laptop.

duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30444960)

why is a laptop dearer than a lawnmower?

In other news... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30444964)

... the same bottle of beer is almost an order of magnitude cheaper at your local beverage mart than at an upscale night club. How can that be?

Really? (2, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445012)

Of all the ridiculously priced items out there, why did he pick these batteries? Batteries for laptops need to be smaller, lighter, and more careful about heat dissipation than those in a lawnmower. The 66% premium sounds about right, just like the premium one has to pay for the rest of a laptop compared to a big old desktop PC.

If he wants to rant about prices, how about laptop accessories? I wanted to buy a second wall charger for my laptop, but they were charging $75 for it. What about the price of any cable or charger sold at chain stores? Radio Shack, who used to sell packs of resistors to me for 50 cents, wanted me to pay $25 for a USB cable. It's as if they want me to buy everything online [monoprice.com] .

And I won't even start on text messages and other cell phone baloney. Ranting about that could be a full time job.

Energy density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30445054)

It's all about energy density per volume (Wh/mL) and mass (Wh/kg)

My home burglar alarm has a 48 Wh battery that cost $14. And guess what? It's somewhat large and heavy.

Profit margins (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445078)

What are the profit margins on lawnmowers and lawnmower accessories? Gross margins on laptops are around 10%. Compare that to things like clothes, furniture, and food which might be 100% or 1000%. Often times electronics retailers profit only from the accessories like batteries.

Power DENSITY not watt hours (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445102)

It's the power density not the watt hours that make the price difference. In other words it's the watt/hours per kg that matters. Laptop batteries are not as dense (heavy) as power tool batteries, their power density is higher (more watt/hours per kg) than power tool batteries.

Lack of standards (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445132)

There is (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your POV) no such thing as a standard laptop battery i.e. one size fits many. Therefore you don't get the same economies of scale that may occur if there were, say, only 3-4 different laptop battery sizes, with multiple manufacturers cashing after the market.

I suspect the same thing goes on with power tool batteries but I bet if you cracked open a few designed for different tool brands they'd have many the same components between them, similar to how lantern batteries are basically 4 (crappy) C batteries in series.

Rebuild it yourself (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30445146)

Contrary to popular belief, so called proprietary battery packs are actually filled with pretty standard lithium ion cells. These can be purchased on eBay and a variety of other outlets. Even if you can't find the correct size you will find a similar enough model that you can use instead - you might have to solder a few wires but nothing that requires mad skillz.

So next time you have an expensive proprietary battery pack go bad on you, bust it open yourself and put in a few new cells. This is also a service offered by some companies so you can get new batteries for discontinued equipment - much of this equipment is not worth paying someone to rebuild a battery for but for things like satellite phones (such as the Motorola 9500) it is well worth it.
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